Today was one of those days I wanted to run away. I had no idea where I’d go, but running just sounded good. I simply needed to escape my life.
I’ve had a few of those days this summer.
And with a few weeks of summer still left, it seems like every time I turn around I hear another mom saying, “School can’t get here fast enough. I can’t handle one more day with my kids!”
Have you ever had one of those runaway mom days? When you feel like you can’t endure one more minute inside the walls of your house?
When you think to yourself, I’d love to see these people survive without me.
When you want to strangle your kids, and you’re pretty sure they’d be safer if you left the premises immediately? ;)
When you visualize yourself actually running out the front door?
When your mind is racing with thoughts like, I think I might have a nervous breakdown… I need a xanax, or a glass of wine (even though it’s only 10 am)… I’m just not cut out for this mom gig (or marriage gig, or in my case, being the caregiver for my 87 yr. old mother with dementia.)
When you want to turn in your badge and say ‘I quit!’ - and head straight for the nearest exit.
Like I said, today was one of those days.
It was a combination of things. It always is.
MY KIDS: arguing, complaining, comparing, smart-mouthing, making messes they don’t clean up (then whining when they’re asked to), and two boys who protest anything that would dare interfere with their next Fortnite game.
ME: feeling unheard, disregarded, unappreciated, disrespected, not to mention FED UP with the video game that has taken over my boys’ lives. (I’ll deal with that in another blog)
MY HUSBAND: saying that one thing that triggers the argument we always seem to slide back into.
ME: feeling resentful and cynical, wondering if we’ll ever come to a consensus and resolve our hot button issues.
MY SWEET MOM: asking me the same question over and over again.
ME: feeling like if I have to answer that question one more time, I just might crack.
MY FRIEND: calling me to share how I had hurt her through my insensitivity and seeming rejection.
ME: feeling so humbled I wanted to crawl into a cave, exiling myself to the hills of failure.
Call me the runaway mom, the runaway wife, the runaway daughter, the runaway friend. I fit them all.
But I’m still here. So far, Jenny Klement hasn’t gone missing.
So why haven't I done it? Just run away?
I can tell you exactly why. Because every time I imagine myself physically running for the door, I picture the look of shock, horror and fear all over my kids’, my husband’s, my mom’s face and even my friends' faces. (which I’m pretty sure would scar them for life). And once I made it out the door, I wouldn’t even know which direction to run. I wouldn’t even know where to go.
We actually have a beautiful little chapel right down the street from my house - sometimes I’ve imagined myself running there. But I'd never make it halfway down the street. Running away from my family to hide in a chapel never feels quite sane. I’m pretty sure the Lord would take one look at me and tell me to turn around and go right back home. Gently reminding me that I won’t find Him in the chapel if I've abandoned my family in order to get there. Because where my family is – that’s where I will find Him.
So if I don’t run, you’re probably wondering what do I do?
I’m still working on that part. I’m a work in progress. So are my kids. So is my marriage, my care-giving role with my mom, and my friendships.
But here is what I am learning to do…
I think we’re all familiar with the“fight-or-flight” instinct, also known as the “acute stress response”. (Ha! What mom isn’t familiar with acute stress???)
Fight-or-flight [fahyt-awr-flahyt] - our “instinctive physiological response to a threatening situation, which readies one either to resist forcibly or to run away.”
Today, I couldn’t take the "threatening situation" any longer. I was at my wits end. I felt all the textbook symptoms of fight-or-flight sweep over me: my heartbeat was racing, I started breathing faster, and my entire body became tense and ready to take action. I wanted to bust out and flee.
The disciples were tempted to run too. They faced their own share of “threatening situations”. One time Jesus basically asked them, Is this too much for you? Do you want to leave too? (from John 6:67) You know the disciples had thought about it, at least Peter had, because he confessed,
“Lord, to whom else shall we go? You alone have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)
In the midst my own runaway moments, when everything in me wants to bolt, I find myself confessing the same thing - Lord, to whom else shall I go? You alone have what I need. Please, help me.
What I’m learning is that sometimes, it’s not about fleeing OR fighting. It’s not about running away from someone (the people in my house making me crazy); it’s about running to Someone Else. And letting that Someone fight for me.
To whom else shall I go?
Lord, when I feel like a runaway mom, or a runaway wife; a runaway daughter, or a runaway friend… when I feel like it’s just too much, and I want to escape. Give me the strength to run to You, instead of running away. You will give me what I need. You will fight for me - so that I can turn back around and face my children, my husband, my family members and friends - and apologize again, forgive again, start over again, love again.
For You alone have the words of eternal life.